The efforts to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have ground to a halt.The Netanyahu government clearly has no interest in any agreement that would require it to give up the West Bank.The Palestinian Authority has no interest in negotiating until the Israeli government demonstrates willingness to negotiate seriously over the West Bank. And the Obama administration has no interest in doing anything that would offend those donors to the Democratic party who, in theory at least, would cut off campaign donations, if Netanyahu is pressured in any way.
In short, it's a stalemate, one that shows no sign of ending.
Meanwhile, and not surprisingly, the general perception has taken hold that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is both hopeless and not that significant either--not when compared to the growing likelihood of a new Cold War with Russia, continued mass murder in Syria and the biggest threat of them all: climate change. (Those with any doubt on that last score should watch "The Years Of Living Dangerously" on HBO.)
Even Iran is helping to reduce urgency about Israel-Palestine. Before 2013, it appeared that solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would somehow make it easier to begin negotiations with Iran over its nuclear development program.
But it now is likely that the United States and its allies are going to reach a deal with Iran (over Israeli objections) that will eliminate the threat that Iran will develop nuclear weapons while simultaneously beginning the process of normalization with the Islamic Republic. Neither events in Syria or the occupied territories have reduced Iran's eagerness to rejoin the world, nor the Obama administration's eagerness to leave office in 2017 with a comprehensive Iran deal as its most significant international achievement.
In addition to that, here in the United States there is a growing lack of interest in the whole issue. Yes, the lobby and its supporters are as vocal as ever. But the forces that oppose the occupation are losing clout as the BDS movement (which favors ending the occupation as a first step toward dismantling Israel itself) seems to be where the action is.Given that Jews who support both the existence of the State of Israel and an end to the occupation are never going to join any movement led by the boycotters, BDS has inflicted serious damage on the anti-Netanyahu forces.Hopefully, J Street can rise to the occasion but, more likely, indifference to the whole situation will grow and Israel will continue to feel free to consolidate its hold on the West Bank.
All this is more a Palestinian problem than Israel's.Those who argue that Israel needs to end the occupation to avoid becoming a predominantly Palestinian state are naive.The people running Israel today would have very little problem losing a Jewish majority so long as they can neutralize the Palestinian majority's political clout by continuing to deny West Bank Palestinians the right to vote. And they would.
Democracy, shmocracy. The Israeli government would simply announce that in Israel's "dangerous neighborhood" it cannot afford traditional one person, one vote elections. And the United States, led by Congress, led by the lobby, would agree.And occupied Palestinians would continue to be stateless and rights-less, majority or not.
So what should Palestinians do? They should give up on any idea that the United States can be an "honest broker" and take their case to the United Nations and to every international body associated with the United Nations, including (and most importantly) the International Court of Justice.
The occupation (in clear distinction to the secure existence of Israel) is against international law and should be challenged in international forums.True, the Israelis and the Americans would raise holy hell but so what. The rest of the world wants the occupation ended.The name of the game should be surrounding the occupation with the same stink that surrounded apartheid, and that can be achieved without going to the Security Council where the United States has a veto but to every other appropriate international body.As for the United States, it will start reconsidering its position when it sees it is out there alone, alone in support of occupation.
As for the alternative, I don't see one. One thing it is not is expecting the United States to pressure Israel into doing anything the Israeli right does not want to do.That hasn't happened since Jimmy Carter was president and heroically achieved an Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty over the right's objections. It won't happen now.
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